Checking in – Southwest Washington Medical Center, Vancouver, WA

The Southwest Washington Medical Center Parking Structure, Vancouver, WA

Back in the Fall of 2005, we were just starting to hang planters off the side of buildings. We had recently acquired Flower Framers of Cincinnati, a manufacturer of window boxes and other hanging planters. That led to the insight that we could probably do the same type of product for larger commercial applications.  The planters at the Southwest Washington Medical Center, installed in 2005,  were one of our first attempts at the design and fabrication of large, custom hanging boxes.  The photograph taken above, and most following, were taken by our sales manager John Denman during a visit to Vancouver, WA in December, 6 years after the product was installed.

Custom hanging planters, taken in the Fall of 2011

The specifier created large hanging beams running horizontally along the structure. It was our job to create a large box (in this case 72″L x 24″W x 24″H) and bracket system that was easy to install, and would hold up over time. We fabricated the boxes in linear low density polyethylene, which would last nearly forever.  We custom matched a LLDPE matrix color to match the paint color of the steel structure. The boxes still look as good as they did when they went in.

The boxes are anchored to the brackets (3 per box) on the back, with large stainless steel bolts. Each box free-drains through a hole in the bottom. There is surprisingly little evidence of  this drainage, which typically would be found on the walls or the boxes below.

Boxes at time of installation - Fall 2005

The photo above shows the boxes at the time of their installation. We designed a bracket, which was then submitted for a structural engineer’s approval. We’ve learned much about hanging boxes since that time, but one thing remains the same: make sure the box stays where it is supposed to. We ensure all our proprietary brackets get an engineer’s stamp before going into production. The brackets are mild steel, galvanized and painted. There was no sign of rust on the brackets.

Custom planters wrap the exposed structure, with a fully developed swale below

The overall design has been very successful. The image above (taken last Fall), contrasts with the condition the project was in during construction. What appears natural and organic was designed to look that way (see the image below).

At installation - note the swale, and the change over 7 years

The project was also one of the first ones that utilized our AutoFill container irrigation system, which appears to be holding up just fine over the years. The plants look great, and the installation is a real success.  Since this time we’ve gone on to put boxes on dozens and dozens of parking structures, becoming the leading manufacturer of hanging planters. Although we use different materials and techniques today than when we did this one, the results are still the same!

Not bad, for a parking garage!

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